Supply Chain Planning Blog

Where is the E in S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning)?

Posted by Cyrus Hadavi on Wed, Aug 24, 2016

download.jpgWhere is the “E” in S&OP?

According to Gartner, there can be no effective S&OP process without an S&OE—Sales and Operations Execution, process. In other words, why make a plan if cannot be executed accurately or cannot be translated into execution? Here is what Gartner says:

• The No. 1 challenge among manufacturing companies is connecting sales and operations planning (S&OP) to operational plan/execution.

• Value-adding, effective S&OP process cannot exist without S&OE, as it provides the planning interface to execution.

There has been a recent surge of interest in S&OP. The attraction is primarily in integrating sale and operation as well as better visibility into potential issues. However, the major problem with most, if not all, S&OP systems is that they are far from accurate especially when it comes to capacity and mix of products as well as order level pegging. The inaccuracy of plans leads to all kinds chaotic manual adjustments and tweaking just to get it to work. S&OP shows you the direction but cannot take you there! In order to arrive at your destination at the right time and place you need to be able to execute the plan not just get a high level idea of which direction to go. There may be traffic jams, there may be road closings, there may be flat tires; and there may be bad weather and bad road conditions. In all such instances your S&OP plan is inadequate to deal with such inevitable but unpredictable issues and cannot give you any help as to what your best course of action should be. Their best suggestion is “keep simulating and perform What-if” all possible conditions that might occur! This is not a feasible approach!

To be able to perform execution, you need to have:

1- Accurate plans (not just rate-based planning like spreadsheets)
2- Have a unified data model between plan and execution engines
3- Ability to adjust the plan as needed

Furthermore, execution systems, just like vehicles, can handle all the bumps on the road to make the ride a lot easier. Shock absorbers in your vehicles are precisely a method of execution of plans. In their absence, the ride can be extremely uncomfortable. This is often the case when execution systems are missing and people often end up performing all kinds of expediting and manual changes, trying to absorb the “shocks.” Even more importantly, the main issue is that the financial predictions that they had made regarding the plan at the S&OP level is no longer valid and totally false. For example, use of more expensive substitute materials or more expensive freight methods, because of late deliveries, can substantially add to the real cost of products. To this end, the S&OE system needs to have the capability to monitor the financials, as such changes are made, on an on-going basis. Costs based on S&OP alone is wishful thinking and have no resemblance to the actual.
Another important point that was made earlier above was having the ability to translate plans into execution. In other words, a seamless transition between planning into execution. A unified data model in plan and execution systems is a requirement for this to happen. Furthermore, the planning engine must have a realistic model of the actual environment so that the plans are produced in an accurate manner. Current methods of capacity planning which are based on bucketed rate-per-period, is very inaccurate and insensitive to the mix of products. Even if you had two products A and B, if B takes twice as long as A to make, one cannot plan this unless you know how many B’s and how many A’s are needed. An average of X per day or week is very misleading which is exactly what almost all S&OP systems do. In many cases, such as asset-based industries, the actual models of equipment are a must in order to produce accurate plans. Capacity depends on set-up times, batching, availability of tools to be used on the equipment, processing times and so on.

Lastly, almost all S&OP systems cannot trace orders to the components and supplies that are to be used for every order. Thus, the ability to peg orders, to qualify suppliers, and to find root causes of issues and latenesses are totally impossible for these systems! They can only say what is short and which orders will get what is available. In high tech, pharmaceutical and many other industries, pegging to the right supply, to the right supplier and to the right processes are requirements. S&OP systems must be able to demonstrate such capabilities or else the actual execution of the orders would be a nightmare.

S&OP and S&OE are two essential processes that go hand in hand and in the absence of one or the other the whole purpose of having the system is defeated.

For further information on how Adexa’s S&OP and S&OE work to avoid the aforementioned issues, please send an email to info@adexa.com or visit our web site: www.adexa.com

Topics: Supply Chain Planning, Planning Systems, Spreadsheets, Planning, Sales & Operations Planning, S&OP, S&OE, planning and execution

Who Do You Blame For Your Supply Chain Woes?

Posted by kameron hadavi on Thu, Feb 25, 2010

Supply Chain BlameIs it the People, Process, or System? 

Here we go again: "Systems can't solve our problems, we need to fix our processes." Have you heard that before? I bet you have. Also, have you heard this one: "We need better people!" Although, I do not disagree with the importance of processes and people, have you considered that it might not be their fault? The fact is that, Processes, People and Systems are like a 3 legged stool. You take one of them out...and well, you fall on your...(you know what) and it really hurts!

Let's consider each one. If you don't have the right people then you should not be in business--and you have much bigger problems than processes and systems to worry about, anyways. So let's assume that you have the right people. If so, then they are intelligent and experienced enough to put in place the right processes. OK, now you got the people and you got the processes, but why bother with systems--spreadsheets are just as good! I can hear the old-timers saying: "all my life I used spreadsheets and managed to get products out the door for 30 years," or "I don't need no fancy system to do my job!" Well, they have a point, they can do their job. That is not even the question. The real question is how fast can they do it? How accurately can they do it? And how about process integration? (That's gobbledygook for being in synch with everybody else in your organization).

We recently upgraded a client's planning system that took over 23 hours to generate a plan. That meant they were always two days behind in order to get the updated data, run the plan, and then execute the plan. They could have easily avoided building the wrong stuff if they simply had a faster system. Essentially you can lower your inventory by a large percentage if you plan more frequently. Also, you can make better use of your resources by making the right items and deliver on time-because you are making what you should be making in the first place. Now, I know spreadsheets are fast but they are not nearly as fast, accurate, and integrated enough to run an entire supply chain efficiently.

Another telling example: one of our large electronic clients with off-shore manufacturing, in China, used to take about 2 weeks to perform Available-to-Promise (ATP). Why? Well, it took a week in the HQ to check inventory levels and allocations; and another week in China to decide what can be done about it. They overhauled their supply chain planning system and now they are doing the whole thing in less than couple of hours! They did that simply by upgrading their system, and not even touching their people and processes. Remember, no matter how many people you throw at this and how good your processes are, ATP requires a ton of data, and disparate pieces of information, from allocations, to capacities, to suppliers to inventory, to priorities, etc., etc. By the time you bring all these information under one roof, it is too late and your data is too old for the correct decisions to be made. Only systems are fast enough, accurate enough, and integrated enough to pull all that information together in real-time, and give you an answer almost instantly.


Remember, this is not about systems being just faster than people; it's about how the right planning system can take your people, and processes, to a whole new level of efficiency and productivity--Whether it's for demand planning, inventory planning, S&OP planning or any other types of planning. But how do you know if you have the right planning system? Well for one thing, if it takes 23 hours to get an answer, or you are using spreadsheets-on-steroids, my guess is that you don't have the right one. If that's the case, stop blaming your people and processes and start looking for one. We recently published an eBook about how to justify a supply chain planning system, and that should provide a few good hints on what to look for when it comes to picking the right system.

I really would like to hear if you have any blame game stories to share with others...feel free to comment any time.

 

For more information about different types of Supply Chain Planning systems visit: Demand Planning, Inventory Planning, or Sales and Operations Planning.

Topics: Supply Chain, Supply Chain Planning, Planning Process, Planning People, Planning Systems